I recently had the opportunity to attend a seminar by one of the top economists researching on terrorism. One of the topics which caught my attention was the effectiveness of counter-terrorism policies. The results on kidnappings in particular caught my attention. The study showed that conceding to kidnappers demands resulted in 2.62 additional kidnappings. Violent ends to kidnapping incidents ( such as the police rolling in and killing everybody) had little or no effect on the level of kidnappings. The new kidnappers just assume that the old kidnappers where not smart enough and their mistakes would not necessarily apply to them.
Some other insightful findings are that poverty is NOT a significant determinant of terrorism risks (makes one wonder just what is going on in the Niger Delta), “Countries with intermediate levels of political freedom are shown to be more prone to terrorism than countries with high levels of political freedom or countries with highly authoritarian regimes”, the geographical characteristics of an area are associated with higher levels of terrorism, “presumably because terrorists have havens to hide from government forces”. The general idea is that political considerations, not poverty, are the main drivers of terrorism and a redistribution of wealth from rich to poor will have limited effect in curbing terrorism.
It is important to note that the paper refers to international terrorism and kidnappings but I think we can draw some useful insights which can be applied to the Militancy and Kidnapping problem in Nigeria.
The seminar was presented by Todd Sandler, The Past and Future of Terrorism Research.